Alternative Livestock: Going Beyond the Tradional in 2023

Not enough room for cattle?

Chickens seem a little too ordinary?

Alternative livestock is the perfect answer for the unconventional farmer looking to break the mold.

And with demand for alternative livestock products growing across the country, your homestead can start making you money quickly.

Let’s take a look at how you can get started raising and marketing alternative livestock, even if you don’t have much space. 

What is Alternative Livestock?

Alternative livestock is any non-traditional farm animal you raise on your farm or homestead. They range from wild animals that have been domesticated to exotic animals sold as pets.

Some popular species are:

  • Buffalo
  • Elk
  • Deer
  • Game Birds
  • Ducks 
  • Honey Bees
  • Fish 
  • Rabbits
  • Alpacas and llamas

Before Getting Started with Alternative Livestock

Like traditional farm animals, you need to consider several factors before getting started with alternative livestock.

  • Are there local zoning requirements for your particular alternative livestock?
  • Do you need special permits or licensing?
  • Do you have enough space and resources for the animals you would like to raise?
  • What experience do you have raising livestock, traditional or alternative?

Veterinary Care for Alternative Livestock

Finding a vet that specializes in your type of alternative livestock can be a challenge. Check what’s available in your area before making a final decision. 

Also, networking with other farmers, whether local or online, can help when you have specific problems or questions.  

How to Sell Alternative Livestock Products

Unless you want a farm full of pets, you’ll soon be looking to sell your alternative livestock products, whether it’s meat, eggs, feathers, fibers, or manure. 

Even if selling is not your thing, finding a market for your products won’t be difficult.

Some great ideas:

  • Local farmers’ markets
  • Fairs and Festivals
  • Start an internet page
  • Social media
  • Talk to local chefs and restaurants
  • Host tours and workshops on your farm

The Top 3 Alternative Livestock for Getting Started

New to alternative livestock? Check out these great options for getting started.


Yes, the humble honeybee is a great option when getting started with alternative livestock. They are easy to raise. They don’t need daily care like other alternative livestock. However, you will need to build or buy hive boxes and get a bee suit.

Bees don’t need a lot of space, so they are perfect for smaller homesteads. 

You can attract them for free in the spring by placing sugar water in the hives.

Locally sourced honey and honeycomb are popular products for allergy sufferers. Honey sells for up to $10 a pound. And honeycomb for as much as $20/pound. Plus, you can rent the hives to farmers looking to pollinate their crops.


Another great alternative livestock option when getting started is rabbits. Rabbits don’t need a lot of space, just simple hutches. They breed often and have big litters. You’ll have a steady stream of income throughout the year. 

Rabbit meat is high in protein and low in calories. It is a popular alternative for people who have trouble digesting other types of meat and can go for as much as $8 a pound. Rabbit pelts aren’t easy to find and sell for about $10 a pelt.

Gardeners love rabbit manure as it is rich in nitrogen and phosphorous. They’ll gladly pay up to $5 a pound.


Ducks are another easy-to-care-for option when starting out. They require about the same space as chickens but do less damage.

A mature duck will sell for up to $10. Chicks go for between $3-$5. 

Larger than chicken eggs, duck eggs are packed with vitamins and minerals. Fresh duck eggs are difficult to find, leading to higher prices in many local markets. You can also sell the eggs for hatchlings to other farmers.

Duck feathers and down are popular for making pillows and comforters. Many breeds have unique markings, making their feathers desirable for crafting. These feathers can sell for up to $10 a feather.

Ducks poop a lot. And gardeners love it! You can have a great business selling duck manure.

Ready to get started?

Talk to local farmers. Check out alternative livestock groups on social media.

Then decide which alternative livestock is right for you.

No farm feels complete without livestock. And alternative livestock will transform an ordinary farm into something special.